Thursday, May 04, 2006

How to buy a Native American flute: Part 2

In Part 1 of How to Buy a Native American flute we looked at several different factors including:
  • Quality of Workmanship
  • Quality of Sound
  • Tuning
  • Fingering
  • Ease of Playing
If you haven't read Part 1 yet, I strongly suggest that you take a moment to read it before you dive into this article. In Part 2 we will take a much more detailed look some things you can look for when purchasing a NAF, including:
  • Finger spacing
  • Flute length and bore size
  • Types of Wood
  • Finishes
Finger Spacing
For beginning flute players the most important thing to consider, other than the sound, is the width of the finger spacing of the holes on the flute. People with smaller hands, or those who have never played a musical instrument before, are not used to the stretch that comes with the bigger, lower pitched flutes. Starting with a smaller, higher pitched flute is like doing warm ups before exercising. It will help a beginner get used to playing a NAF without having to worry about a big stretch right away.

A flute in the key of A is a good way to start for people with smaller hands.

If your hands are bigger or if you've played a musical instrument before, the finger spacing will not be as big a consideration. I've found that people with experience playing other wind instruments like clarinet, recorder or a silver flute have no problem with the finger spacing. Pianists also do well. If you've played other instruments before, or you have large hands, you could easily start with a flute in the key of G or F#.

Of course even if you never played an instrument or your hands are smaller you could still start with a G or F# flute. Just try not to over do it and strain a muscle in your hands. Once you've gotten used to the stretch of these the larger flutes you'll do just fine. Most flutes below F# are harder for all beginners to play and I generally don't recommend them for that reason. But there are exceptions and that lead us to our next subject.

The Complete Guide to the Native American Style Flute

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  1. Anonymous6:18 AM

    These two related blogs have been an extremely helpful guide, especially for a beginner, like me. They simplified several aspects of getting started on NAF that initially had me buffaloed. There is something special about owning handmade instruments and I'm looking forward to using this information to go out and make my own purchases in the future. Thank you very much!

  2. Nice to get this information all from one place. Often, folks have to read several articles to gather this knowledge.
    Also, nice to get the "Recording Artist's" perspective on this as usually only the Flute Makers write these types of articles.

  3. Anonymous10:03 AM

    Excellent information. I have been making NAF's in Minnesota for about 1 year and use Kieth's guide. I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment from these instruments and love the "magic" they hold. I often will take my flutes up to the North Shore of Lake Superior to play outside in the woods or on Lake Superior. I only wish there was someone in Minnesota who I could associate with that had the same hobby. Any ideas???

    Again, thanks for the info.

    I did vote for you!

    Greg Amundson (Nanuke)

  4. Thank you so much. I love the sound of these flutes and what they do for me. I am a beginner an had lots of questions. You have answered them all. Thanks again.